August 18, 2022 by Dymphna

“Put the bosses in Hi-Vis!” – Qantas

How Qantas wasted our money

I caught up with an Aussie couple the other day.

(I am currently fulfilling a life long dream to sail around Europe. I’m writing this from the boat in a fjord in Norway!)

Anyway, this couple was telling me about how rough their international flight legs had been.

I asked them who they were travelling with, and I was surprised to hear that the Aussie legs were with Qantas.

And I guess I hadn’t been following the news on Qantas, but it really seems like the wheels are falling off the great Australian bird.

And the latest news is that they’re asking head-office staff to put their hands up to work emergency shifts in baggage handling:

Chief operating officer, Colin Hughes, told staff in an internal memo that Qantas is seeking expressions of interest for a contingency program over a three-month period.

They’re after at least 100 managers for frontline airport roles as post-lockdown problems plague them.

At least 1,600 baggage handlers were sacked during lockdown, with the service outsourced to contractors, a decision that the federal court has ruled unlawful. Qantas will appeal the decision.

A spokesperson said the airline was committed to improving its services: “We’ve been clear that our operational performance has not been meeting our customers’ expectations or the standards that we expect of ourselves – and that we’ve been pulling out all stops to improve our performance.

“As we have done in the past during busy periods, around 200 head office staff have helped at airports during peak travel periods since Easter.

Nice. Imagine spending six years at University getting an MBA, and then being asked to haul baggage.

Then again, maybe a bit of time in the Hi-Vis, doing some real work, is just what the management team at Qantas needs.

Remember, this is a problem that seems to be largely their own making.

Because during Covid, Qantas received a massive $2bn dollars from the government.


That’s two-thirds of the company’s value. You can literally buy an entire airline for that price.

And what did the government get for its money? You’d think that price would buy you the ability to maintain service quality and maintain employment.

You think the government would have had at least some strings attached to that kind of money.

But nup.

People got sacked left right and centre, and Qantas used it is an opportunity to push their workforce onto less stable contracting arrangements. (Some of that push has already been deemed unlawful.)

And when the aviation industry picked up again, Qantas found themselves massively short-staffed, and now there’s cues around the block and one ex-employee reckons that one-in-ten bags are going missing right now. (Qantas disputes this.)

And where did all the money go? Well, they upgraded their planes, bought out a smaller competitor (Alliance Aviation), lobbied the government to stop Virgin receiving any support, and paid the executives some handsome bonuses for managing the pandemic so well.

So yeah, put those execs in some hi-vis and put them to work.

Qantas used to be one of the world’s great airlines.

And I think Aussies deserve better bang for their buck.